F1: tears and a huge ovation for Zhou Guanyu, first Chinese driver to compete in the Chinese GP

His 14th place at the checkered flag will remain completely anecdotal. The main thing was elsewhere for Zhou Guanyu. The Sauber driver became the first Chinese in history to take part in a Formula 1 Grand Prix in China this Sunday.

Celebrated as a hero since his arrival in midweek, the 24-year-old also ran in Shanghai, his hometown. This Saturday, he finished 9th in the sprint, a race where each of his movements was celebrated as a victory.

This Sunday, at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix, Zhou Guanyu was authorized to go to the starting grid normally reserved for the three single-seaters present on the podium to receive a nice tribute from the Chinese public, jubilant as soon as their little protected got out of his car.

“It was incredible”

Moved by this immense ovation, Zhou could not hold back his tears. “It was incredible,” he explained on Canal +. I am very happy especially to have finished the Grand Prix. It was a tough battle all the way. I fought. Unfortunately my starting position did not allow me to hope for much. But to see the whole crowd screaming when I finished and got out of my car. It was better than I could have imagined! »

Arriving in the elite in 2022, becoming the first Chinese driver in history to race in F1, Zhou had to wait two years before being able to participate in the Chinese Grand Prix. The meeting in Shanghai had disappeared from the calendar since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

For his return to the program, the Chinese GP saw the inevitable Max Verstappen win ahead of Lando Norris (McLaren) and Sergio Perez (Red Bull). Further on, the two Frenchmen Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, 11th and 13th respectively, have not yet scored a point this season.

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